Because Green became an unrestricted free agent in December after Boston withdrew its $9 million qualifying offer, teams are already calling Falk's office to discuss his possible exodus from Beantown. Free agency negotiations won't officially begin until July 1, but Falk said he has already had exploratory discussions with "12 to 14 teams."
While there is a strong mutual interest in Green returning to the Celtics, Falk said it's far from certain that it will turn out that way. Boston has nine unrestricted free agents in all, most notably Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. And judging by his view of the free agent market on the whole, Falk -- who is best known as the longtime agent of Michael Jordan and an influential advocate of the league's stars for the last 30 years -- will be driving a hard bargain as always.
"With the possible exception of (Brooklyn point guard) Deron Williams, I think that Jeff will probably be the No. 1 unrestricted free agent on the market," Falk said. "It's not like we have LeBron (James) and (Dwyane) Wade and all these guys floating around.
When the Celtics withdrew the qualifying offer I was surprised and I has hoped that a Boston media member would ask Danny Ainge for the reason. David Falk at the time said he tried to talk Danny out of withdrawing the offer for Danny's own good. Unless you planned to let Jeff Green walk, making him an unrestricted free agent isn't a wise move. Teams get into ridiculous overpaying, bidding wars over unrestricted free agent. With a restricted free agent, you simply let the NBA know you plan on matching any offer, other teams shy away, and you get the player for much less.
The Celtics wouldn't have had to pay Green $9 million to keep his rights. That offer was contingent on him passing his physical. Instead they could have signed him for $6 million and looked at it as an investment. If the Celtics sign Green this Summer they'll now end up spending much more that $6 million more to get it done.
I also thought retaining Green last Winter would be wise, because his contact could be possibly be used as a trade chip, either during the season or this Summer (In order to pry a restricted free agent from another team, opposing teams often have to construct a sign and trade). Now that he's an unrestricted free agent a trade only makes sense with a capped out team.
Another reason to have kept that qualifying offer on the table was that the Celtics then would have been eligible for a valuable injured player exception and could have signed another player to half of that contract amount. Rebounding fool Reggie Evans chose the Clippers minimum offer over the Celtics minimum offer, but I'm pretty sure he chooses the Celtics for $3 million. Could the Celtics have used more rebounding this season? Do people need oxygen to live on?
So why did Danny withdraw the qualifying offer? One answer could be as simple as Celtics ownership didn't want to pay for a guy who wasn't going to play during the 2011/2012 season. Even if letting him go hurt the team, it was a business decision. Another possible answer is that Danny wasn't impressed by Green during his stint at the end of the 2010/2011 season and would prefer to use his resources on another player. If another team offers Green an inflated contract, Danny can let Green walk and not get blasted for trading Perk for nothing (yes I know we also get the #22 pick in this draft).
One last thing I wonder is if the Celtics had held onto Green could he have possibly been back on the court for the Miami series? Falk says he's 100% healthy now as a free agent. Was he a few weeks ago? Obviously if the doctors recommended that Green not play for a certain period of time than you definitely follow those instructions, but what was the exact period of time?
My guess is that Celtics ownership didn't want to pay Green's salary and the luxury tax on a player that Danny was unsure of. An owner like Mark Cuban most likely would have, but the Celtics owners don't the same deep pockets. No one would criticize them for not paying a guy who wouldn't play this season, so withdrawing the qualifying offer was an easy out. If the Celtics let Green walk this Summer because they're not interested in him being a part of the team future then it will make a bit more sense (though it still would have been nice to have Green as a trade chip and to have had that injured player exemption). But if the Celtics end up overpaying for Green this Summer or they want Green back, but the bidding gets too high, they might regret withdrawing that qualifying offer.